Polyglot. Adjective. Definition: Knowing or using several languages.
Why not become a polyglot in all the love languages?
A few days back, I was chatting online with a good friend of mine. She was super excited that her boyfriend had thoughtfully picked up something she’d been eyeing for months–but she seemed to almost feel guilty for appreciating the gesture.
“My love language is not gifts at all; it’s last on my list,” she told me, then continued. “But damn, I love me some good presents!”
“How very dare you appreciate a gesture from another love language? ;-)” I asked her.
Captain Obvious Here: Many couples struggle with mismatched love languages; one individual may feel loved when they are showered with presents while another feels loved when someone completes chores for them. This often results in one half of the couple buying gifts that their other half doesn’t appreciate (they are spending so much money, WHY THOUGH?!), while the other busts their ass taking care of an entire household, all the while resenting the fact that their partner clearly doesn’t care how much work they’re putting into it (“For the love of God, will they please just put their socks in the hamper ONE TIME?!”)
There are countless articles online that discuss how to become fluent in your partner’s love language; if you love someone, of course you should endeavor to show them that you love them in the way they appreciate most–and in case you need to hear it, your partner should obviously do the same for you–if they don’t, you have some hard questions to answer about whether you are with the right person, or even a nice person. But I digress.
But my ponderance is this: if you love your partner, why not “speak” to your partner in all love languages?
I once attended a marriage seminar where the priest leading it asked, “If you could rate your relationship from 1-10, where would your relationship fall?” Every couple had some variation between 5-9, but not one couple bravely claimed their relationship was at a 10.
“Okay,” he replied, “do you know what you would need to do for your partner to bring your relationship to a 10?”
Everyone nodded; we were getting married, so in theory, each of us knew what would bring our relationship to the next level for our partners. And that was his advice:
Every day, in whatever way you can, make your relationship a “10” for your partner–and if they love you, they should do the same for you.
Imagine that: If you both worked at that every day and appreciated your partner’s various efforts in any of the five of the love languages, you really will both live happily ever after.
Of course, it’s important to use their primary language first–Lord knows I’d feel less than loved if my partner spent an entire weekend day cleaning up the house in an act of service to me instead of spending that coveted, precious one-on-one time with me–but that doesn’t mean the other languages should languish, neglected!
Consider this: Who wouldn’t want a relationship where your partner both served you and appreciated you serving them in return? Where they physically loved you, and you joyfully reciprocated? A relationship where he, she, or they gifted you thoughtful trinkets and positively adored any thoughtful gift you happened to procure? A partner who goes out of his/her/their way to spend quality time in your presence every day (and you return it by putting and keeping your cellphone away to make sure you are 100% in the moment every day)–a relationship where your partner sings your praises to the moon and back–and blushes when you verbally notice something wonderful about them too?
Real talk, that just sounds like a fantastic relationship to me.
I’m extremely lucky in that my partner and I value the same love languages: quality time and physical touch. It certainly makes it so much easier when one of us is having a tough time and we can reliably just dissolve on the couch together in a puddle of cuddles at the end of the day.
However, we strive every day to speak to each other not only in our preferred love language, but in all five languages (and also in cooking and dressing up and doing goofy, nerdy things…)
For example, “Acts of Service” isn’t super high on our list; however, we both lovingly and daily engage in this language. For example, we are never frustrated when our clothes occasionally don’t quite make it into the hamper (I mean, we both do have ADHD, so this isn’t exactly uncommon). Instead, we 1. found a better place for the hamper that actually worked with our neuro-divergence, and 2. when we do occasionally find clothes randomly strewn across our chaise or next to the bed, rather than resenting it, we simply pick them up as we see them and put them where they go as an act of love.
And when we recognize the service of our partner, we thank them for it–lovingly and often! Acts of service lead directly to our words of affirmation. Consider this: “Thanks,” means a little. “Thank you so much for putting your workday dishes on the tray and taking it downstairs–it made it so much faster to clean up tonight!” means a lot! Words of affirmation, though not our most valued language, are one of the easiest languages to pick up and use well, simply because we love each other. Every day, I find something I admire about him–and I make sure to tell him so! When I dress up for a quarantined date night at home, Jason never fails to comment on my radiance. He makes me feel beautiful with a few sincere words–and it brings me great pleasure to do the same for him. Because he is wonderful.
What about gift-giving?
This is certainly our least-treasured love language, although I personally love buying gifts for people–however, my partner positively lit up when I bought new hangers as a gift to make sure we had enough of the right hangers for all the nerdy t-shirts I randomly ordered him. Hangers and shirts. That’s all it takes.Meanwhile, if it wouldn’t be totally gross, every morning I would drink out of the same coffee cup because he gave it to me as a surprise on our first mother’s day together to commemorate our little fur and feather babies. And while I like shiny things a little, as Tailor Swift sings, I would have married him with paper rings. However, the fact that our wedding rings are so reflective of our love often brings tears to my eyes whenever sunlight catches the thoughtful jewels.
So, do we have an advantage, valuing and speaking the same love languages? Absolutely. Do we still pay attention and make sure to actively appreciate the various ways we speak to each other in different love languages? Absolutely.
And, hey–to answer an earlier question, our relationship–amid pandemics and protests and tear gas and death and highly charged political issues that will literally kill people… our relationship is consistently a 10.
That priest certainly knew what he was talking about.
Perhaps the secret to speaking fluently in all love languages with a treasured partner is simple appreciation; with mismatched language partners especially, it can be harder to appreciate your partner’s well-meaning efforts if they’re not also speaking often in yours already. However, if you both endeavor every day to speak not only in their primary languages, but in any additional way you can and appreciate the joys they bring to your life, you really will live happily ever after.
So, I’ll leave you with this: What’s something different you could do–today–to show your partner you love him, her, or them–and bring your relationship up a few numbers? ❤